Halloween is all about scary stories, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treating. But in case you’d rather indulge in travel and not in candies, we’ve compiled a list of spooky destinations to visit around Halloween Season. From Salem to Sleepy Hollow and from the Catacombs in Paris to Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania, the world offers plenty of mysterious, scary and frightening destinations where to spend the scariest day of the year.
If you’ll be travelling somewhere and you’ll be renting a car to reach your destination or explore the whereabouts, don’t forget to purchase insurance so that your trip doesn’t turn into a nightmare!
Salem, in Massachusetts, is a great place to celebrate Halloween. Riddled with dark secrets from the infamous witch-hunts and witch trials of 1692, it’s no-brainer why people flock to this picturesque city every year by the end of October.
The Salem Witch Museum is a must-do during your stay as it outlines to visitors the origins of witchcraft and the suspicions surrounding the practice. In the first part of the museum visitors are shown a theatrical presentation of what the witch trials were like in 1692 in a spine-tingling narration. Afterwards, you enter the modern witch museum, which examines the way witches have been viewed throughout history. There are also several historical landmarks as well as historic and “after dark” tours to take part in.
The Salem Witch House is another interesting attraction and the place to go if you want to get a historic overview of the witch trials. It’s located in the house which used to be the home of the judge in the witchcraft trials in the late XVII century and it is the only still-standing structure with direct ties to the witch trials… and it looks really spooky!
This seaside town starts celebrating Halloween in the first days of October with a massive parade called the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade and a plethora of family-friendly events that take place throughout the month and end up with an impressive fireworks display on Halloween night.
If the Salem Witch Museum and the Salem Witch House were not creepy enough, you can’t miss the Haunted Witch Village then. It was once home to the famous writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and it’s now the biggest and oldest haunted house in the city.
Expect guided tours of infamous and haunted spots, hanging and trial reenactments, fireworks and lots of witch-themed activities! If there’s somewhere you have to go on Halloween, it must be Salem!
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Located in Hudson Valley, Sleepy Hollow is known as the setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”., the Headless Horseman. It’s another magnet for tourists during the Halloween season as visitors can visit the Horseman’s Hollow attraction that opens in the evenings in October or take a spooky tour around the town and its cemetery.
Halloween celebrations take place all throughout the month of October here. One of the most popular events is when the 300-year-old Philipsburg Manor is turned into a terrifying landscape that features vampires, ghosts, witches and state-of-the-art special effects. And if you can’t have Halloween without pumpkins, don’t miss the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze that features more than 7000 carved gourds, the Museum of Pumpkin Art and a Pumpkin Windmill.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, the Jazz Capital of the US, is also known as the most haunted city in the United States thanks to its reputation for voodoo and spooky Southern charm. It’ s another perfect Halloween destination and it seduces visitors with various events such as the Voodoo Music Festival, the Vampire Ball and the Halloween Spooktacular Family Concert not to mention the fantastic parades along Bourbon Street and spine-tingling ghost tours in the historic French Quarter and visit famous haunted houses such as the Lafitte Guest House, which is haunted by the spirit of a young girl who died of yellow fever, and the Old Absinthe House, also haunted by the ghost of Andrew Jackson and the voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau.
If you are into spooky things, don’t miss the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum and the amazing cemeteries that feature above-ground vaults from the XVIII and XIX centuries. The galleries of the Voodoo Museum display artifacts related to the dark secrets and history of the practice. And if you can’t imagine Halloween without parties, head to Frenchman Street and join the largest street party of the season and mingle with the locals dressed up for the occasion.
Mexico and the Day of the Dead
Mexico may not celebrate Halloween but they do celebrate the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos, a festival that lasts three days and honors the dead. It’s a very popular celebration and parades are especially grandiose with flowers, skulls and skeletons in Mexico City and Oaxaca. Under the wonderful face paint and heads full of flowers, this Mexican holiday has a more sentimental undertone. Throughout the three days, they honour the loved ones that have passed away: there is a day for children (Day of the Innocents) and a day for the adults (Día de los Difuntos o de los Muertos).
The festivities start on 31st October and include a series of elaborate rituals, night-time carnival processions, street stalls, and candle-light vigils. The day before the holiday, families and friends gather to create elaborate altars filled with flowers, candles, incense and photos of their loved ones and whatever they would love to eat and drink on their arrival to Earth. Pixar made a beautiful movie on the Day of the Dead that you have probably watched and loved, Coco.
The English capital is a perfect destination for Halloween trippers. It’s the city of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, and it has been the setting of some of the scariest fictional and non fictional characters of all times. Home to the London Dungeon and many others, it has so many spooky sites to explore that Halloween is the perfect time to visit the city.
History lovers will have a blast at the Tower of London. Torture, decapitation and espionage all happened there during the XVII century when it was used as a prison for traitors. There, Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey were beheaded and it is said that their ghosts still roam the halls today. The Bloody Tower is considered the place where the young sons of King Edward IV were murdered while the Queen’s Tower is said to be haunted by the ghost of the cousin of James I.
For a spine-tingling experience, spend some time in the London Dungeons and join the Jack the Ripper Walk to discover a darker and creepier side of East London. Another creepy attraction is Madame Tussaud’s Museum with its attractive and real-life figures.
Hampton Court is another popular landmark for the brave at heart as it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two wives of Henry VIII: Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard.
Gloomy Edinburgh, Scotland
If your stay in London hasn’t tingled your spine enough, we invite you to drive north of the island and arrive at Edinburgh, Scotland. During the Halloween season the city brings life to its dark past and invites locals and tourists to explore its haunted passageways, underground chambers and scariest landmarks.
Halloween is celebrated annually in the city with the Samhain Fire Festival with a parade of spectacular mythical creatures beating drums and breathing fire as they make their way down the historic Royal Mile to West Parliament Square.
You can also spend a night in the city’s supposedly-haunted underground vaults. They are said to be home to many spirits. A night in the vaults is only for the brave! People have come out with inexplicable bruises and injuries and terribly frightened!
Mary King’s Close is known as Edinburgh’s spookiest street and it’s a mysterious and dark street located under the historic buildings of the Royal Mile. It was bricked up during the plague outbreak of the XVII century and it was reopened in 2003 and it is now said to be the most haunted place in Scotland. You can explore this scary street on a guided tour and understand the poverty, gloomy and ill-infested Edinburgh from the XVI to the XVII centuries.
Edinburgh Castle is another popular tourist destination all year round and it’s a must-do attraction during Halloween as it is said to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland and there have been many reports of paranormal activity there.
Paris, for a Charming but Spooky Halloween
Although you probably relate Paris to glamour, fashion and art, it can also be an interesting place to visit during the Halloween season. Did you know that under its wide boulevards and Gothic cathedrals lie the bodies of more than 6 million Parisians?
The Catacombs of Paris is an underground labyrinth where the remains of about 6 million Parisians can be found after they were removed in the XVIII century from the overcrowded cemeteries. Visitors can climb down 130 steps to the chilly crypts and tunnels lined with human bones to explore just a small portion of the nearly 200 miles of haunted passageways that lie beneath the streets.
If this hasn’t been scary enough, why don’t you stroll the Cimetiere Pere LaChaise? House to the remains of Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Jim Morrison, Moliere and Edith Piaf, it’s a must- do Halloween activity in Paris.
Visit Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania
No list of Halloween destinations is complete without Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania. Yes, Dracula’s birthplace attracts visitors all year round and especially during Halloween.
Bran Castle is not a place where you’d like to get stranded. The iconic Romanian fortress is perched atop of a cliff, highlighted by the surrounding forest landscape. Starting in the castle, you can then explore the surrounding Transylvanian villages that feel frozen in time. Inspired by the bloodthirsty ruler Vlad the Impaler, Bran Castle is one of the best places to celebrate the spookiest season of the year.
Luciana joined our team as a mum blogger in 2020. A dedicated mum to a lively daughter and a dog, Luna, Luciana brings authenticity and passion to every post. Her expertise in parenting and lifestyle topics offers practical, relatable advice for real-life situations.